Sunday, December 22, 2013

Emperor Mollusk Versus The Sinister Brain

I wanted to like this book as much as "Soon I Will Be Invincible."  It includes such gems as:

Relations between Terra and Luna had been strained since the Lunans had eaten Neil Armstrong in 1960.


I had a few pieces of art.  Some Neptunon seascapes to remind me of home.  The original Mona Lisa that Leonardo da Vinci had hidden away for fera that Terra would never be ready for the secrets of faster-than-light travel encoded in its brush strokes. ... The skull of the Loch Ness Monster, unfortunate victim of a Scottish chupacabra outbreak.  Edison's spirit radio; it didn't contact ghosts but the one-dimensional entities of another plane, though the entities liked to screw around and he could be forgiven the mistake.
Unfortunately, most of the prose is more like this:
We reached the end of the tunnel, emerging on a ledge above a vast cavern overlooking a sprawling city carved from the stone.  Hundreds of tubular creatures moved through its streets.  Zala ducked down, but we were so high up, I calculated it was unlikely they'd see us.

"Have you seen these creatures before?" she asked.

"They resemble nothing I've come across," I replied as I zoomed my exo sensors on the creatures.
It reminds me of Dave Wolverton's writing, in that the author's very distinct, somewhat flat writing is extremely effective in a narrow context, but when it comes time in the narrative to hear a different writerly voice, there's still just the flat one and what if it's not an affect deliberately chosen for artistic purposes but simply the only way they can express themself?  I was moved by Dave Wolverton's first book because his writing suited that character so well but I read five or seven more of his books and he didn't have any other voices so I gave up.  I'm scared to give R. Lee Martinez five or seven more tries because I only enjoyed this book in spots anyway.

Moby Dick Quotes

In 2013 I got scared that I couldn't read anything longer than a cat gif so I read Moby Dick and a few other books.  My favorite quotes:

from Chapter 13: Wheelbarrow
... one most perilous and long voyage ended, only begins a second; and a second ended, only begins a third, and so on, for ever and for aye. Such is the endlessness, yea, the intolerableness of all earthly effort.

from Chapter 25: Postscript
In truth, a mature man who uses hairoil, unless medicinally, that man has probably got a quoggy spot in him somewhere. As a general rule, he can’t amount to much in his totality.
From Chapter 30: The Pipe
“How now,” he soliloquized at last, withdrawing the tube, “this smoking no longer soothes. Oh, my pipe! hard must it go with me if thy charm be gone!
From Chapter 41: Moby Dick
But at length, such calamities did ensue in these assaults— not restricted to sprained wrists and ankles, broken limbs, or devouring amputations—but fatal to the last degree of fatality;
From Chapter 47: The Mat-Maker
... I started at a sound so strange, long drawn, and musically wild and unearthly, that the ball of free will dropped from my hand ...
From Chapter 58: Brit
Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!
From Chapter 79: The Prairie
But how? Genius in the Sperm Whale? Has the Sperm Whale ever written a book, spoken a speech? No, his great genius is declared in his doing nothing particular to prove it.
From Chapter 96: The Try-works
Look not too long in the face of the fire, O man! Never dream with thy hand on the helm! Turn not thy back to the compass; accept the first hint of the hitching tiller; believe not the artificial fire, when its redness makes all things look ghastly. To-morrow, in the natural sun, the skies will be bright; those who glared like devils in the forking flames, the morn will show in far other, at least gentler, relief; the glorious, golden, glad sun, the only true lamp—all others but liars!
From Chapter 119: The Candles
In the midst of the personified impersonal, a personality stands here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A sock/visual pun

This sock is for Aaron.  I used metal #6 circular needles in magic loop mode with The Fibre Company's Organik (70% merino, 15% baby alpaca, 15% silk), which recommends #8 needles.  This produced a nice tight stockinette pattern.

It went fairly smoothly for a new project.  I had to learn Judy's Magic cast-on, and I'm still a bit shaky on my M1R and M1L (it's all a blur of picking up legs forwards or backwards, knitting through the back or the front or backwards through the front or something) as evidenced by a few holes in one ankle but not the other.  The sock pictured is the second try; when the pattern calls for casting on 10, that's ten total, not ten per needle.  I'll get more practice because Aaron has already outgrown the newborn pattern; this sock only went as far as his ankle.  So I'll have to remake it (and make its mate) one size up, and now I have one extra sock suitable for any newborn named Aaron.

Hardly anybody seems to love the pun as much as I do.

(see also the Ravelry post.)

What to wear (hat edition)

After the lack of Championship baseball games, probably the biggest problem with the off-season is that I don't know which hat to wear when I go out. During the season, the universe generally makes it clear based on who's in or out of town, who had the better game last night, or simply who needs more cheering up. But what I am I supposed to do in December? Fielder trade: probably good. Fister trade: probably bad. Uribe deal: necessary but scary. Trey Hillman's firing: ugly. But worth picking a hat over?

I am pleased with the look and fit of my new road Detroit hat. And that's a lucky thing, because with the 30% polyester content, the trick of using hot water to shrink it and a blowdryer while wearing it to set it might not have worked. I guess that's what "molten" wool is: mostly wool. Also, it's made on "original machines", which conjures up lovely images of some rehabilitated warehouse/factory in Detroit with lovingly preserved, deeply unsafe 1930s machinery and old women and men who, thanks to the retro trend, have jobs because they are the only people who know how to operate it (they sure don't have pensions). But it was made in Bangladesh. Did they really ship the original machines there? Heck, I guess they may have. I am happy every now and then to pay absurd-seeming prices to indulge my inner hipster, but only if I have reason to believe that a decent chunk of that money is trickling all the way down.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nomination for first against the wall

After reading this Explanation of Benefits three or four times, I think that the meaning is: "You got some tests recently, and your doctor billed you (or rather us, your insurance company, on your behalf) $136.84 to tell you the results of the tests, and we immediately thought about paying as much as $106.74, and we considered paying the rest, but it turns out that the tests come back from the lab in form that you yourself could already understand, such as "normal" instead of "311 mg/L", and so we aren't going to pay your doctor to read you that; and because we are an insurance company, we can simply refuse to pay and your doctor has to accept that; so you don't have to pay anything either directly or via insurance to have your test results read to you."  Note that this is the new, easier to understand Explanation of Benefits, not the bad old hard-to-understand one.

Insurance companies: even when they are telling you good news, they make you unhappy.  I'm not even sure who I'm nominating here, the insurance company or the doctor (i.e. the UCSF machine) for practically charging me for the oxygen they consume.

Monday, December 9, 2013

This is not a baby hat

This is one of my few adult hats.  The pattern is "Alternating Twist", which is a [purl 2, knit 3, purl 1, knit 3] ribbing with a few stitches slipped two rows and then pulled across the ribs for the "twist" effect.  It's knitted on circular bamboo #8 needles, casting on 99 and knitting about 36 rows plus the decrease rows.  The yarn is Cascade Yarns Eco Duo, which is a blend of undyed baby alpaca and undyed merino.  It's a very pretty kind of gray with some variation.  What's confusing is that although it's called "undyed", it has a color and lot number, which correspond to the "Koala" color on their site.  So if it's not dyed, and it's not its natural color, what is it? 

Update: I went to Ravelry to look something up and decided to make this first post there, and in writing up what I thought was an error in the instructions, I realized I may have made an error in my implementation.

In the Vogue instructions, the Row 4 repeat ends with
wyib sl next 2 sts;
drop sl st off needle to front of work; 
sl same 2 sts back to LH needle; 
pick up dropped st and k it;
It doesn’t say what to do with those two stitches that you slipped and then put back on the LH needle. I assumed that they should be knit. However, my implementation doesn’t look very much like the Vogue picture. The Vogue picture looks kinda like this, giving the impression of a solid ribbon that twists around, but mine looks more a solid ribbon that never twists but occasionally does have a loose stitch pulled diagonally across. So maybe knitting those two dropped stitches isn’t the right thing, but following the instructions you still end up with them on the LH needle, so what are you supposed to do?